Melbourne Storm has extended Parramatta?s losing streak to five matches by winning its second away game of the year following a hard-fought 12-10 victory at Parramatta Stadium tonight.
In driving rain Melbourne secured its sixth win of the season in the final minute of the match when Matt Orford converted a penalty goal right on fulltime to break a 10-all deadlock that threatened to provide the NRL?s second golden point game in as many weeks.
Parramatta second-rower Lee Hopkins made the crucial mistake of holding down Storm rookie Billy Slater in a tackle just three metres out from the Eels? line with one minute remaining on the clock.
Orford nailed his second penalty goal for the night and the Storm had snatched the narrowest of victories at Parramatta Stadium for the second year running.
With both sides having several opportunities to close out the match in the second stanza Melbourne?s win came on the back of some exceptional defensive work and two first half tries.
The Storm will no doubt be wondering how they didn?t hit the front with just eight minutes left after a seemingly straight forward Slater try was oddly disallowed by video referee Eddie Ward.
Nevertheless Melbourne went on to inflict Parramatta?s third two-point loss in three matches and assure itself a place in the NRL?s top five.
Ironically it was a penalty to Slater in the sixth minute that had started the night?s scoring when Eels? skipper Daniel Wagon was penalised for having his hands on the ball as Slater tried to stand up from an acknowledged tackle.
Orford ? who was cleared to play on Friday after struggling with a knee injury all week ? converted the penalty goal from directly in front as Melbourne dominated the first 20 minutes of the match.
The Storm?s superior field position and possession rate were rewarded when captain Stephen Kearney ? playing his 100th club match - crossed untouched in the 23rd minute.
Just three minutes later young winger Semi Tadulala bullocked his way over for Melbourne?s second after a Slater burst through the middle of the park opened up the home side?s defence.
A lead of ten points was eroded to six just before halftime when Eels? winger Ashley Graham repaid the favour by running on to a beautifully weighted Brett Hodgson grubber to score unattended.
The Storm?s 10-4 halftime lead looked to be a handy buffer as the rain continued to pour down in the second period.
This led to both sides dropping plenty of ball as the error rate invariably rose.
Graham completed his double ten minutes into the second term but fullback Hodgson failed to convert two penalty goals during the half as both sides rallied desperately ? drop goals were unsuccessfully attempted by both Hodgson and Orford in the final minutes.
Finally after playing the better football for much of the night, Melbourne earned the evening?s defining penalty and the hapless Eels were left to contemplate their ninth loss of the year.
DETAILS STORM 12 Tries: Kearney 1, Tadulala 1 Goals: Orford 2/4 (including 2 pen.gls)
EELS 10 Tries: Graham 2 Goals: Hodgson 1/3
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James Avery: Phone (03) 9421 3222 Mobile: 0411 623 024 [email protected]Like